Friday, March 30, 2012

Hands On First Impressions: Sine Mora

Rock takes a look at Sine Mora, the gorgeous new shoot 'em up from Grasshopper Manufacture and Digital Reality. Prepare to be surprised.

Sine Mora seemed to come out of nowhere for me. One day I hear it mentioned, and it's out the next week!  That could be because shoot 'em ups aren't usually on my radar, but I'm really glad I got a chance to give this 2D side-scroller a whirl. The first thing I noticed about Sine Mora was how bright and lush everything was!  No matter which of the wonderfully varied stages I flew through, everything just pops!  From daylight raids over incredible blue oceans to runs through foreboding subterranean caves, the visuals in this retro sci-fi world are magnificent. Akira Yamaoka, of Silent Hill fame, provides the backing music.  Here, Sine Mora succeeds yet again, bringing excellent atmospheric music that's just the right kind of synth!

Damn is this thing pretty!
One of the most interesting aspects of Sine Mora is the way that player health is managed.  You don't have a health bar, and you don't lose lives.  Instead everything is based on a timer: a countdown is always going, and it's your job to keep it from reaching zero.  How do you do that?  Like pretty much all shooters, you annihilate everything on the screen, of course!  Every enemy that you destroy adds a small amount to the timer, and conversely, every hit you take will give a timer penalty. How much time you've got remaining at the end of a stage will contribute to your overall score, and that's where Sine Mora's extreme re-playability comes in, constantly pushing you to have more and more time remaining when you finish your run.

GAH! Look out!

One thing I was definitely not expecting from Sine Mora was much of a story, so imagine my surprise when I found not just a story, but a fairly engaging tale about a war and the terrible things it can bring.  The dialog, spoken in Hungarian, is utterly amazing! The acting is superb, and I absolutely love the way the voices crackle over the radio. There is also a limited time-slowing ability that can really help get you through some rough spots.  These things aside, there's a lot of standard shmup fare here - tons of enemies, weapon power ups, and score multipliers.  I say to to the game's credit, because everything that's here is an absolute joy!

Rock wishes to someday be a dashing pilot....

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